B.At the beginning of February, the discussion about Lars Feld took place mainly behind the scenes of Berlin’s government district. Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier (CDU) wanted to keep the Freiburg economist on the Council of Experts, the most important economic policy advisory body in the country.
A third term of office would be unusual in view of the history of the body founded in 1963, but it has happened in isolated cases and most recently with Peter Bofinger – and seemed obvious with a view to the need for advice in the Corona crisis. But Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) did not want to agree; Feld’s positions are considered too economically liberal among social democrats.
Now Feld’s departure from the council is sealed at the end of this week – and the political dispute will be carried out in public. The new CDU chairman Armin Laschet aired his displeasure on the short message service Twitter on Tuesday: “Lars Feld is one of the most renowned scientists of the social market economy.” Expert Council could continue to work. Altmaier did not comment on the matter, but spread Laschet’s tweet on the Internet.
Laschet is said to have added later in the parliamentary group meeting: Scholz is an “apparatchik of the SPD”, the process is monstrous. The resentment in the Union is exacerbated by the fact that even a one-year extension of Feld’s mandate until after the federal election – instead of the usual five-year term of office – did not succeed.
SPD leader Norbert Walter-Borjans spoke of “verbal derailments” by the CDU chairman. “What is clearly evident here is the thinking that only an expert is who the CDU likes,” said the SPD chief of the Reuters news agency. “Anyone who deviates from this is considered an ideologist.”
“Lars Feld embodies ideological neoliberalism”
Friedrich Merz, who recently lost to Laschet in the competition for the party chairmanship of the CDU, also spoke up critically: “It is more than regrettable that the federal government was unable to bring its most important economic advisor on board during the greatest crisis in post-war history to hold, “said Merz of the Funke media group.
Interestingly, he did not only address the SPD, but also indirectly criticized the Union’s lack of assertiveness. Merz had brought himself into play as Federal Minister of Economics after his defeat in January, but this attempt failed. FDP boss Christian Lindner also spoke out clearly in favor of the field.
Scholz responded evasively when asked why he blocked another term of office of the respected economist: “It is the case that the Federal Government and the Council of Economic Experts have in the past started from the principle that a change of office will take place after ten years,” he said on the sidelines of a press conference on the German government’s housing balance sheet. And further: “The federal government has not yet reached an agreement on the question of a successor.”